To push, or not to push—that is the question… Actually, it isn’t. The real question is how to push, especially if you’re a small business owner who’s looking to harness the immense powers of push notifications to keep those customers delighted, engaged, and ultimately coming back for more.
But in case you’re still on the fence about using those push notifications in the first place, let’s revisit our original question. A staggering amount of research consistently shows that push notifications are extremely effective.
According to global-marketing company Responsys, 68% of app users enable push notifications for the apps they download. The survey also found that 70% of consumers reported that in-app push notifications were valuable to them, and 43% said they were more likely to use an app that issued push notifications.
Localytics picks up the torch here and shows us that “… app engagement—measured by launches—was 88% higher on average among mobile app users worldwide who had enabled push messages.” And for some icing on that cake, e-commerce apps saw a whopping 278% increase in launches among users who had enabled push notifications.
In other words, to push. But do so wisely and strategically—which is what we’re about to show you.
1. Keep It Personal and Relevant
Push notifications are meant to deliver your customers value and benefit. Don’t send them meaningless promotions praising your business. Instead, give them something they are genuinely interested in.
Localytics has found, in fact, that personalized and targeted messages, like discounts on items of interest, can drive engagement and interaction. According to Responsys, some more reasons users enable push notifications:
- 50% for getting access to special or exclusive offers
- 34% to receive notifications in real time about sales and availability
- 29% to stay up to date with products and services
- 31% to look up inventory
- 36% to access brands on the go
And here are some personal tips from small business owners who’ve struck gold with their Como app’s push notifications feature:
Vicki Pierce of EcoBuns suggests sending pushes about inventory that’s relevant to your customers: “The push notifications that we send out are usually about re-stocking of products or announcing limited-edition stocking times for in store and online.” Her customers appreciate these notifications, she explains, because they don’t miss out on the opportunity to purchase limited-edition products.
Michael Rechichi of The Gentlemen’s Barber emphasizes the importance of sending meaningful push notifications instead of promotional fluff: “Make each message count, make them valuable, and don’t become more noise. Preface your messages; let customers know that through the app they’ll get notifications of appointment openings, daily specials, or whatever your content may be, but assure them that you won’t be spamming them.”
Dr. Marnita E. Sandifer, Ph.D., owner of the Spa Café, attracts new customers and boosts sales by using push notifications to alert her clientele about special deals. “My push notifications are to the point and contain value, like a coupon or a special discount). I send out a push notification whenever I add a new deal—which leads customers directly to my ‘Hot Deals’ Page. On average, the push notifications I send out about new Hot Deals bring in 5 new guests over the course of these four days. These push notifications have increased 20% total sales.”
2. Make It Easy and Convenient
Time is an invaluable commodity, and nobody seems to have enough of it these days, including your customers. Which means you should use your push notifications to keep up with their hectic daily pace. Keep it simple, make it efficient. The shortest distance between you and your customers is a push notification…
For example, if you send out a push notification about a special discount, link your customer directly to their favorite department within your in-app catalog. You can also use push notifications to streamline scheduling and order tracking, and issue alerts about location-based events (making it easy for patrons who are in the area to drop by for a special deal, promotion, etc.). Some more relevant stats from Responsys:
- 44% enable push notifications to keep track of orders
- 38% enable push notifications to review and manage accounts
- 28% enable push notifications to receive location based notifications
Michael Rechichi of The Gentlemen’s Barber explains, “If we have a cancellation for one of our barbers, we send a push for the time through the app. We’ve seen that time slot fill in less than a minute from time of push. Our customers love this feature.They know that means there is an opening available to get in with their favorite barber in a minute’s notice. Since we launched our application in August 2014, we’ve seen a 100% book-through rate with every push for an opening.”
Jesse Padilla of Victory Auto Wreckers uses push notifications to save his clientele time and fruitless inventory searches: “The biggest way our interactions with customers has changed is that phone calls are not the primary source of communication anymore. Customers use the app to receive notifications of inventory in real time. They download the app and get instant updates. Whenever we have new inventory, I send out a push notification. I also use the new scheduling feature to send out weekly wrap-up messages about remaining available inventory. Customers often come because they’ve received a push notification.”
3. Timing Is Everything
Push notifications are a powerful tool to connect with customers and boost business, but they also have a tendency to be, shall we say, misused. Two key issues are when to send and how often. Let’s start with the first.
Optimal timing for sending out push notifications varies by business or service. Your ultimate goal is to catch your target audience at a time when they are most likely to read your message and act. If you cater to new mothers, for example, early morning hours may be ideal. For those 9-5 working folk, commuting hours and lunch breaks could yield maximum engagement. Early evening hours are another option, as this is the time when many consumers aren’t too busy to shop in response to your message.
When you do find your golden formula, stick to it and be consistent.
The frequency of your push notifications depends on the type of message you are sending. When it comes to order confirmations, shipping updates, scheduling issues, reservations, etc., send on an “as needed” basis—these are the kinds of notifications customers expect and appreciate.
For notifications about sales, new inventory, special events, and content that serves your customers, find a happy medium and be consistent (once or twice a week is a good rule of thumb).
More personal tricks from some of our star SMBs:
Dr. Sandifer recommends sending “limited-time” offers to get customers to take action instantly. “For example ‘10% off all waxing this afternoon only!’ This creates a ‘sense of perceived urgency,’ which is more likely to make the customer come in.” She also reminds fellow SMB owners to avoid bombarding their customers and decreasing the value of push notifications by sending them out all the time.
Jesse Padilla offers useful advice to busy SMB owners about setting up their push notifications in advance: “The scheduling feature for push notifications has been VERY helpful and VERY effective. Set it and forget it and I’m done.”
And there you have it—3 tips to help you use push notifications smartly and effectively to reach out to your customers and drive business. Just remember, when push comes to shove…
- Your notifications should offer your customers something useful, relevant, and delightful.
- They should make whatever action you want the customer to take quick and easy.
- You should send them at a frequency and time consistent with the habits and lifestyles of your clientele.
So push it, push it good, have some fun, and let us know how you worked your magic with push notifications in the comments below.
Push your customers with a mobile app.